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Disney is committing 80 acres of its land in Florida towards affordable housing. A third-party developer has pledged to build 1300 homes across the area.
According to a statement from Disney, the residences shall reportedly be “affordable and attainable” and will be available for “qualifying applicants from the general public, including Disney cast members.”
Jeff Vahle, President of Walt Disney
“With this initiative, we’re lending a hand to make a real and meaningful impact in our community by tapping into the best of our company’s strengths. This is the right opportunity and the right time to take action.”
The announcement of the project has also re-ignited conversations around wage disparity at Disney. With custodians making a salary of around $15 an hour, living in Florida during a sizeable inflation period is statistically difficult (the average rent in Orlando in 2022 is just over $1800). Worker pay has been juxtaposed to former CEO Bob Iger whose wages ballooned to $65.5 million in 2018.
Current CEO Bob Chapek was paid more than double in fiscal 2021 compared with 2020, with a wage packet of $32.5 million. It brings into question whether the initiative is purely philanthropic or it serves Disney more so in retaining employees.
Similarly, Universal is giving 20 acres of land within Orlando’s tourist area for 1,000 units of affordable/mixed-income housing.
Universal’s scheme also lists several amenities, from preschool, medical offices, transport community gardens, and a sports/leisure area.
Omar Wala and Ericka Keller of Brisa Builders Corporation operate one of the largest certified minority urban housing development enterprises in New York City, with close to a billion dollars in closed construction contracts over the last five years.
Wala defines Brisa Builders’ purpose as developing the communities in which he and his employees live so everyone can afford safe and clean home environments. Similarly to Disney and Universal’s plan, Brisa Builders makes this happen by constructing mixed-use and affordable multi-family buildings in the greater metropolitan area of New York.
Both Wala and Keller live and work in the communities they serve and have what Wala calls “a genuine interest in the stabilization and growth of not just Brooklyn, but New York City as a whole.”
On the plans of Disney and Universal, Wala said: “Ultimately, outside of motive, the plans help house people in affordable homes. This is a positive thing, and something we have accomplished over many years now.”
“Our nation’s infrastructure has been rocked by inflation and geo-political issues. The fact that Disney and Universal are in Florida at least helps ease the pain some families are going through one of the most important sectors of human life, which is where you live.
Currently, Brisa Builders also builds affordable housing in underprivileged communities to raise the standard of living for as many people as possible, empowering numerous communities in New York City with affordable housing developments. A massive element for Brisa Builders is giving back to the communities that helped establish and grow the heads of the company.
With Omar Wala and Ericka Keller having hundreds of millions of dollars in construction contracts, he states: “The value of seeing how we have influenced the world in which we live in way surpasses any monetary gain. I know once the entertainment companies have seen how much good they have done. They too will have this same outlook.